Peters Township’s trip to Hershey was 6 years in the making

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Thursday, March 21, 2019 | 1:06 PM


When Peters Township girls basketball coach Bert Kendall took over the program in the 2013-14 season, the Indians were coming off a winless campaign in Section 2-4A and only managed to win six games.

“We had to instill a winning culture and instill a lot of changes in our work ethic,” Kendall said.

Now, six years later, the Indians are on the verge of completing the perfect season.

They are two and a half weeks removed from their first WPIAL Class 6A championship and are just one win away from capturing the first PIAA title in school history.

“We’ve been chasing a lot of firsts here lately,” Kendall said with a chuckle.

In order to accomplish those feats, the Indians will have to get past District 1 champion Garnet Valley (30-1). The two teams will face off at 6 p.m. Friday at the Giant Center in Hershey, but no matter the outcome, what the Indians have accomplished this season is no small feat.

It’s also no surprise they are in this position.

On average, Peters Township has outscored opponents by almost 30 points; they have only allowed five different opponents to score 50 or more, and only four of their games have been decided by 10 points or less. Some may look at those statistics and think the Indians haven’t had to face much adversity this season, but they have.

In the WPIAL championship game, they avenged a 79-48 loss in last year’s WPIAL final by taking down North Allegheny, 43-40 in overtime, and ending the Tigers streak of two straight titles.

Then, on Monday, behind another momentous performance from Penn State commit Makenna Marisa, the Indians erased a five-point fourth quarter deficit and defeated defending state champion Upper Dublin, 51-46.

Although they haven’t faced too much adversity this season outside of those two games and an overtime thriller with section rival Bethel Park, Kendall knows when the game is on the line his players will do almost anything to come out on top.

“This team is resilient, and they expect to win,” Kendall said. “So, I don’t think any lead is too safe for our opponents because I know the type of heart and the drive of these kids, and they are going to fight to win.”

The Indians will need another one of those performances Friday as they square off with one of their tallest and toughest opponents to date. With a lineup that has four players listed above 6-feet, the Jaguars have only lost once this season, at the hands of Villa Maria Academy on Jan. 26.

They are led by senior captain Emily Mcateer (15 ppg), along with senior Brianne Borcky (9.9 ppg) and Jillian Nagy (8.0 ppg). Because of their size, Kendall believes the game will be decided in a few different areas.

“First and foremost, we have to rebound,” Kendall said. “They are the biggest team we have played, and they are a really strong rebounding team, and we have normally been bigger than the teams we have played. So, our kids are really going to have to box out and rebound. Then, I think we will have to get up and down the floor.”

Throughout this season, the Indians have had no problem getting up and down the floor. Led by Marisa, who averages just under 21 points, the Indians have averaged 65.7 points, which is the top mark among WPIAL teams in Class 6A and third in the WPIAL.

In the paint, freshman center Journey Thompson, who averages 8 rebounds a game, and junior Mackenzie Lehman, who averages 7.6 rebounds, will have to play big roles for the Indians.

With only one obstacle remaining, Peters Township is on the brink of its first state title. Although there may have been a few doubters along that way, Kendall knew someday, if they stayed consistent, the approach would prove to be worth it.

“I knew that our system would work, I knew that we would get there,” Kendall said.

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